Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dream Job 

Went to find more information about MLB Advanced Media’s Pitch F/X system that Dave at USS Mariner has been posting data from, and the second link was to Monster.com, who is partnering with Major League Baseball to find people to attend games and provide these statistics. If that's not a Dream Job, I don't know what is. Since I don't live anywhere near a baseball park, it will not be my Dream Job, but maybe it can be yours.

This Monster Link will send you to three possible careers:

Stats Stringer - Score MLB games from the press box.
Sports Reporter - Cover live MLB games across the country, as well as MLB news of the day off the field.
Pitch f/x Operator - Track every pitch for television, Internet and stadium video production.

Yes, you could become the MLB statistics keeper for the Seattle Mariners. I clicked on "Stats Stringer", which was posted June 1, and the listing shows:

Stats Stringer:
MLB.com, the Official Site of Major League Baseball, is seeking stats stringers for the 2007 season. Stats stringers are responsible for digitally scoring games from one of the 30 MLB ballparks, which provides the live data used on MLB.com in our award winning applications, including MLB.com Gameday. This is a perfect part-time job for a diligent, responsible employee who happens to be a big baseball fan.

Responsibilities include:
- Arrive at the ballpark no later than one hour prior to the scheduled start time;
- Double-check and verify all pre-game information: rosters, umpires, weather conditions, etc.;
- During the game, enter the results of every pitch and game event (plays, substitutions, etc.) using our proprietary software and coding language;
- Work closely with our game-night support staff (via instant messenger) to ensure proper scoring of all game events and accuracy of data;
- After the game, enter all post-game information: winning and losing pitcher, saves, holds, time and attendance
- Validate all stats in software box score against the official box score provided by the Official Scorer, and print out a final box score and game text for the club PR staff

Qualifications include:
- Exceptional (and demonstrable) knowledge of baseball and how to score a baseball game;
- Strong computer proficiency (Windows OS and Windows-based software) and the ability to quickly learn and operate new software;
- Regular availability to attend games in-person nights and weekends;
- A "team player" with a great attitude, including but not limited to a willingness to make and learn from mistakes and the ability to work closely and cooperatively (and take direction from) our game-night staff;
- Professionalism. It's a fun job and we pay people to watch baseball, but it's also an important job and we want people who will take the responsibility seriously.

Note: Stats stringer job openings are subject to business requirements, and, as such, MLB.com positions may not be available with respect to all MLB teams. Only applicants that apply online will be considered. No phone calls please.

Man, I want this job. Good luck!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Jeff Weaver!!!! 

In an attempt to turn the fortunes of Jeff Weaver around, I picked up the free agent and gave him the start tonight for my fledgling franchise in the D-O-V Smackdown Fantasy baseball league

Suffice to say that Weaver's performance has exceeded my wildest dreams! This is what facing the Pirates (and Astros and Cubs for that matter) is supposed to do for your pitcher and your team!

He retired 16 in a row from the 3rd inning pickoff until a 2-out double in the eighth. A four pitch walk and a 1-out double (did you see Ibanez hustle to maintain the shutout?) looked to be the end, but Weaver induced popup after popup and got Jason Bay to flare out to Betancourt to get a COMPLETE GAME SHUTOUT!!!

Standing ovation to you, Jeff Weaver!!! Who woulda thunkit?!?!!

What a Crappy Day 

Rice loses to North Carolina 6-1 to setup an elimination rematch tomorrow.

Oregon State (boo Beavers boo) looks like they'll advance over the Anteaters 6-1.

M's going for their seventh straight loss against crappy teams.

Adam Jones is still in Tacoma.

My happiness for the evening is in the hands of Jeff Weaver.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Best Laid Plans... 

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there! My Father's Day gift was supposed to be a road trip to Houston to see the Mariners in beautiful Minute Maid Park. Unfortunately, those plans were laid to waste by a piece of metal edging in a neighbor's yard. Last night my eight-year old son, Connor, got a visit to the emergency room thanks to the meeting of said edging and bare feet as a game of tag took a turn for the ugly.

Seven stitches and one poor night of sleep later, the road trip for Kelly, me and the three kids has turned into a more laid back day. Connor wasn't able to walk this morning so Father's Day has turned a bit into Cheer up Connor Day. And tomorrow's planned birthday party for newly 8 Connor and his newly 10 sister Samantha has become challenging as well, as a stitched up foot is not supposed to get wet, but we cleverly planned a pool party.

So instead, we just got back from watching Shrek 3, which I HIGHLY recommend for any parents out there. An amazing amount of grown up humor thrown in there while the kids aren't looking and so once again Dreamworks has made a kids movie that is enjoyable for the parents as well.

After the movie, Connor was able to hobble out of there, so he's up and moving again, and he's catching a nap before we get ready to watch the M's take on Roy Oswalt on FoxSports instead of up close and personal. And more good news is that we won't miss any of the Rice-North Carolina tilt tonight! Go Owls!

Its nice that the M's right now are just the appetizer of our sports day, as its hard to have confidence in this team today as they are coming off their fourth straight loss, facing the Astros ace, and the team sounds tired. Its unfortunate that the last four days have undone much of the good of the last two weeks. But a month ago, I would have been happy to be five games over .500, so I'm gonna choose to be happy.

We need to get Beltre back in the lineup, Lopez back into the two spot, and our top two pitchers to pitch well again. That starts today with Jarrod Washburn who could provide the team a huge boost by putting them on his back, and carry them to a win that will make Monday's well deserved day off much more relaxing.

So lets get ready to enjoy our Mariners on Father's Day, and see if they can surprise us by once again taking a good pitcher to the woodshed. Mix in a little US Open golf and Rice battling in the CWS, and it may turn out to be my best Father's Day yet, even without Ichiro's autograph. Go M's, Tiger, Owls!!!

Friday, June 15, 2007

College World Series Game 1 - Of Rallies and WPA 

Took Friday afternoon off of work (sorta, sat with laptop while watching) to watch Game 1 of the College World Series as my heavily favored Owls (now there is a statement I still can't get used to saying) managed to quickly fall into a 5-0 hole to the scrappy "happy to be here, nothing to lose, team of destiny" Louisvill Cardinals.

After two innings of scoreless ball extended our record CWS scoreless streak to 25 innings (thank you Robin Ventura and ESPN for the countless reminders) and falling down 5-0, things appeared bleak. My daughter left the house in a pique of disgust once we were down 2-0, and my sons left after the three run blast made it 5-0.

But, lo and behold, good things began to happen in the bottom of the third. Our good friends arrived, I cracked my first beer of the day, and the Owls bats awakened, as four consecutive two out singles netted a 4 run third to cut the lead to 5-4. But the good times quickly ended as Louisville homered in the fourth and fifth to bring on our third pitcher of the day and heading into the bottom of the fifth the Owls were trying to figure out how to escape the 10-4 dungeon they found themselves in.

Here is where things got interesting. A botched double-play grounder let Rice stay alive in the fifth and scratch out three unearned runs capped by a Jordan Dodson two run double. In the sixth, Phillies first round pick Joe Savery hit his sixth home run of the year to make in 10-8, and in the seventh, Hector Luna homered to make it 10-9. By this time my sons were back riveted to the screen, and my daughter had been banished from the room because all the good things happened while she was gone.

This set up the pivotal 8th inning. Rice's #2 reliever, Bobby Bramhall, came on and promptly gave up a walk, fielders choice, double, intentional walk to find the Cards with the bases loaded and one out. Bramhall got ahead 0-2 on Cards RF Pete Rodriguez before putting three straight fastballs into the dirt. On the critical 3-2 pitch, Bramhall unloads a hellacious breaking pitch that Rodriguez is way out in front of for strike three. The next batter drills a line drive but thankfully it is RIGHT at our leftfielder to end the threat and the Owls enter the bottom of the 8th still just one run down and momentum fully in our favor.

The Cardinals brought out their closer, a fella named Trystan Magnusson. Trystan means "the noisy one", but it was the Owls that made the noise. A single was followed by a spectacular sacrifice bunt that was so good it turned into a single. Joe Savery followed with a RBI single to left (with the Cardinals OF playing at the warning track, no throw was possible) to tie the game. Then, my favorite Owls, catcher Danny Lehmann thankfully failed to bunt twice and on the 2-2 pitch laced a double to the wall to give the Owls their first lead of the game. Jeremy Dodson broke things open with a double of his own, and the Owls cruised to a 15-10 win.

One of the more interesting things I saw in the program, was that as the Owls scratched their way back from 5-0 and 10-4 to the improbable 15-10 win is that ESPN is now featuring "Win Probability" on their broadcasts. Jeff at Lookout Landing would have cringed at Robin Ventura's "I'm no good at math" comments, but fun to see the Owls go from 12 and 16 percent chances to 99% entering the ninth with a five run lead. Looks like ESPN is adopting Win Probability and I would not be surprised to see WPA as an ESPN standard in the next five years.

Another thing that won't surprise me is to see the Owls win their second National Championship in five years, and I hope its a rematch against those irritating Oregon State Beavers who we owe a serious beating to.

Go Owls!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jeff Weaver Rocks!!! 

Jeff, I'm sorry.

You have the ability to hold a lousy NL lineup (Struggling Soriano, Derrek Lee and not much else) to just no runs in five wonderful innings. I'm sorry I ever doubted you.

What had all the makings of a disaster turned into a quality start and a Mariners win as Jeff Weaver goes 6 innings, and only gives up three first inning runs on ten hits, with one walk and even two strikeouts thrown in.

Jeff put 2 baserunners on with just one out in both the third and sixth innings, but worked out of the third with a double play grounder from Mark DeRosa, and out of the sixth with pop ups from Jacque Jones and Alfonso Soriano.

But that's only half the story.

Jeff Weaver woke up the offense by getting plunked in the top of the sixth inning. At this point, Weaver became just the Mariners second baserunner of the game. But the fact that he hit Jeff Weaver seemed to completely unravel the Cubs defense and Jason Marquis, who followed the plunking of the Weaver with walks to Ichiro and Guillen sandwiching a run-scoring error on Mark DeRosa. Then Marquis surrenders the M's second hit of the game and its a bases-clearing double from Rauuuullllll Ibanez.

Following that inning up by NOT imploding even though he gave up a couple of singles earned Weaver his first win of 2007 and an apology from me.

It may be ugly, but you can win a LOT of games in front of this Mariner offense by giving up 3 runs or less over 6 innings. Seven would be better for our bullpen, but that's quibbling. Maybe now the offense will start scoring earlier and more often with Jeff now that he has taken one for the team.

Unfortunately for Jeff, Brandon Morrow has decided that Weaver and the M's DON'T deserve the win and given back two runs (and maybe more to come) to the Cubs. Keep your head up, Jeff!

Weaver - How Much Rope? 

Just watched the first inning as the Cubs crushed everything Jeff Weaver threw up to them and pounced on a 3-0 lead. The M's offense, meanwhile, looks tired and ready to travel to Houston.

So, the question is, how much rope does Mike Hargrove give to Jeff Weaver in this outing?

Given the current state of the bullpen and the need for it to get much rest, and combine that with the fact that Jeffy could easily be DFA'd after another pathetic outing, one strategy would be to give Jeff the ball and tell him - "its your game, you're going seven innings regardless", and see what happens.

If he surprises us, maybe 7 innings from now, the Cubs only have 4 or 5 runs.

Or, more likely, the Cubs could have 10+ runs in the 4th inning, and Hargrove keeps Jeff in there no matter how many mopey, whiney faces he makes on the mound.

I'm watching this game like I do any disaster movie, as this has all the makings of a spectacular trainwreck.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

M's Fail to Consolidate The Break 

When you play tennis and you break your opponents serve, it doesn't count (okay, unless you broke at 5-6), if you don't hold your own serve in turn. You'll hear Johnny Mac calling this "consolidating the break."

Well, tonight, the M's failed to consolidate the break they earned in a 13-inning marathon last night when Yuniesky Betancourt's botched throw allowed one Little Lord Fontleroy to deliver a 2-out bases loaded single and the M's could not mount a rally in a 3-2 loss.

Combined with the A's and Angels winning, and the M's are just back on serve for this road trip, despite a stellar 5-1 record on the trip. The good news is that the bullpen got some much needed rest heading into Jeff Weaver's early morning start tomorrow. Maybe this will be the time for Jeffy to give the M's his first quality start.

That would be a break of a whole other level.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Turbo Magic 

Willie with the game winning hit and Jose Vidro grabbing enough oxygen to score from second thanks to a mental lapse from the Cubs catcher who was so stunned to see that Turbo was still 10 steps away that he forgot to catch the ball.

Grover's streak of 5 straight 1-run wins though is seemingly foiled when Jamie Burke drives in an insurance run.

But, J.J. Putz to the rescue.

Nope, not quite - Putz refused to give up a run even though he loaded the bases.

So, the streak is over.

But at the least the M's have won five straight!

Hargrove Had a Plan 

After yelling at the TV to get Sean Green out of there at the START of the 8th inning, and cursing each successive hit (though to be fair, Green struck out the last batter he faced but the horribly inconsistent home plate ump did not agree), I've calmed down a bit. I now see Hargrove's plan.

He wanted Green to face three batters just so he could use Morrow & Sherrill to perfection against Pinella's Cubs. Working the right Morrow to walk Cubs best pinch-hitter lefty Cliff Floyd before inducing a right-handed tapper to force the out at home.

In comes Sherrill to face "Prince" Felix Pie who's only move at the plate was to repeatedly suck in his stomach in hopes of fooling the home plate umpire. The ump calls two strikes balls, but on the pivotal 3-2 pitch, blue comes to his senses and Pie sits down. Then Sherrill sits down little Lord Fonteroy in similar manner to get out of the bases loaded, none out jam.

This now sets the M's up to win the game by one run in their final at-bat, keeping an improbable streak alive.

Hargrove is getty cocky. He doesn't just want to win. He wants to win with style.

Please make it stop... 

Kellie Pickler not only butchers Take me out to the Ballgame, but then we get to hear her in the Cubs booth the next half inning.

Gems like...

"I almost said 'Apple Jacks' instead of 'Cracker Jacks'. Is that a cereal?"

"I love all these fa-a-ans. They are so loyal."

"Is that the outfield? I'd like to go camping out there."

"I don't even know what day of the week it is right now"

"I do like Cracker Jacks better than Apple Jacks. You gotta have milk with that. They don't sell milk at baseball games, do they?"

I could feel my IQ dropping just listening to her smalltown country charm. I live in Texas, and I've never heard anyone sound so hick unless it was a young coed who could turn "drunk" into three syllables when saying "I'm soooooo dru-u-unk!"

The Cubs broadcast is an interesting contrast in styles to a Mariner broadcast. The M's are about baseball or else about Dave Niehaus. Not so the Cubs. The cameraman apparently gets paid by how many crowd shots he squeezes into the broadcast. For the first six innings, they average two crowd shots for every at bat, and I am not exagerrating. And where the M's broadcasters would feel compelled to make some comment about each darling 3-year-old captured by camera ("there's a happy fan"), the Cubs announcers never say a word.

The Cubs are selling the ballpark experience. All shots of fans are kids having fun, couples in love, or the elderly filling out their scoresheets. Of course, they also include the voyeuristic thrill of spotting a hot babe, zooming in on their cleavage, and then looking away before they notice.

And once you notice this feature of a Cubs broadcast, it is all you notice. Very few times do you go more than two pitches without a fan shot. Its pretty distracting.

In the baseball game, strange decision by Grover to pull Washburn after six innings and only 94 pitches. Considering he has more RBI than Jason Ellison all year (or at least it feels this way). With no one out, I think Washburn coulda laid down a bunt, and stayed in to give our tired bullpen an extra inning or two of rest.

Then to have Morrow and Sherrill up and throwing in the 8th, but to let Sean Green throw to Derrek Lee seems like a bad plan...

M's up 3-2 in the 8th, but not having a good feeling about Green against the Cubs in the 8th.

Go M's!!!

Refuse To Lose 2007 

Hot streaks are fun, but they are even more fun when your team shows resilience, mental fortitude, sticktoitiveness, or what have you. Essentially, the M's are taking games they would have lost over the past three years, dialing the clock back to 2001 and Refusing to Lose.

The M's have now won 8 of their last 9 games, but what makes the streak even more impressive is how they have won these games. In each of these games, the M's either trailed or had lost so much momentum, that the 2005 version of the team would have rolled over and died. But not the new Refuse to Lose M's of 2007:

June 3rd - the M's trail the Rangers 4-1 in the bottom of the 4th when they use a Jose Lopez double to score 5 in the 4th and roll to a 11-6 victory giving Ryan Feierabend his first professional victory.

June 4th - Down 4-3 with 2 outs in the 8th, the M's rally on singles by Yuni, Willie and Vidro before Ichiro blows things open in a 7-4 win.

June 5th - trailing Baltimore 4-1 in the bottom of the 7th a "hungry" Ichiro again finishes off a 4-run rally, and gets home early so he can eat.

June 6th - M's run out of gas and give up a 4-0 lead in 9-6 loss to Orioles.

June 8th - Raul Ibanez rediscovers his power and hits the game-winning homer as the M's win 6-5 in 11 innings

June 9th - M's score 3 in the 7th, add a Sexson solo blast in the 8th and score on a Jose Lopez single in the ninth to rally from a 5-1 deficit to a 6-5 lead. Not only that, but Jeffy Weaver gives up fewer ER (1) than innings he pitched (4)!

June 10th - Down 3-1 in the 7th, the M's rally to tie it, and win the game by scoring a run in the ninth against one of the greatest closers of all time.

June 11th - The M's slowly and painfully give up a 7 run lead, but manage to stay tied heading into the ninth. Raul Ibanez finishes up a monster ninth with a run-scoring double to go with 2 HR and a triple to give the M's an 8-7 crushing defeat of the Indians.

Two constants in these nine games. In every game the bullpen kept us close, and almost always once we got the lead they shut down the opposition. And more importantly, the offense is relentless, knocking out 8,9,10+ hits in every game and putting forth its best at bats in the late innings. You know that the M's are not out of any game.

If you're not watching the Mariners right now, you are missing a fantastic show. Somehow, out of nowhere, this team is channelling the spirit of 2001, and baseball is fun again in Seattle!

Monday, June 11, 2007


Ibanez goes 159 at bats without a home run before clubbing the game winner in Saturday's come from behind win over the Padres.

Today against the Indians, the Cleveland broadcast team snickers about the fact that Raul won't be hitting a home run.

They were right. He's hit two. And as I write this, it is just the 4th inning.

If Raul Ibanez is rediscovering his power swing, then an offense on a tear has just gotten even scarier to the rest of baseball.

If our starting pitching can even come close to league average, the 2007 Mariners are going to win 90 games, easy.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Streaking Time! 

Readers of the Optimist know my fascination with the winning streak, and my obsession with the 5-game winning streak.

For the third time this season, the M's have won 4 in a row. And despite Jeffy looming on the horizon, they face a stretch of schedule that traditionally has afforded the M's their best winning streaks as Interleague Play looms!!!

The next five games look pretty tough...
1 vs Baltimore (Daniel Cabrera looks tough, but all we need to do is get to the bullpen)
3 vs San Diego (Germano/Wells/Young vs Batista/Weaver/King(?) could be troublesome)
1 vs Cleveland (Ouch!!! No rest for the weary as our travel day from San Diego is lost to a snow makeup with a tough Indians squad)

But then the fun begins with a tour of the joke that is the NL Central. Look at this upcoming schedule and try not to drool...
3 at Wrigley against Lou's Cubbies
3 at Houston against the slumping Astros
An OFF DAY - Wow, who woulda thunk it!
3 against Pittsburgh
3 against Griffey's Reds

By the time Boston arrives in Seattle on June 25th, the Mariners could be 10 or 12 games over .500 and maybe even ESPN will notice! Okay, maybe not.

Unfortunately, the Angels are likely to keep pace or better it, as you just substitute the Dodgers for the Padres and the Cardinals for the Cubs and take out the horrible makeup game at Cleveland. And when Boston come a calling to Safeco at the end of the month, the Angels will be enjoying a leisurely tour through the Royals and Rangers.

Oakland, meanwhile, suffers by the schedulemakers this year. Instead of the Cubs or Pirates, the A's get to enjoy a three game trip to Shea. Unfairness, thy name is Unbalanced Schedule!

So, the M's MUST stay hot through the month of June just to keep the Angels in their sights, but their is certainly a shot of putting some daylight between themselves and the A's.

Tonight is the chance to collect the always tough 5 game win streak and there may be longer streaks just around the corner!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Poor Raul 

Remember the movie Parenthood, where Steve Martin's kid can't catch a ball, and so the star player on the team ranges from shortstop to right field to try to catch a ball in front of him?

Raul Ibanez lived that moment twice tonight in left field.

The first time, a routine flyball to left and all of a sudden, there is Ichiro, with time to run over from centerfield while Raul just stood there thrilled that the team star came over to bail him out.

Then, in the 8th inning he gets up the gumption to call for a short hit ball but Yuni isgnores him and barely avoids the collision.

I can just hear it now...

Yuni: "Move a little toward the line, Raul!"
Raul: "Is this good?"
Ichiro: "Keep going..."
Raul: "How about now"
Willie B: "A little further toward the line..."
Yuni: "Actually Willie, you could move over toward the line as well"
Raul: "How about now"
Ichiro: "Now, just get over that wall there"
Raul: "In the stands?!?"
Yuni: "Perfect! Willie, why don't you go get Raul a coke, we've got this side covered."
Willie: "Awwww maaaann, you guys never let me play"

Actually, it seems kind of strange that Ichiro has the time to field a ball hit right at Raul, but several times in this series I see balls hit to deep right center and the only person I see in the picture is Jose Guillen as the ball bounces on the warning track and over for a ground rule double.

Perhaps Ichiro needs to shade just a little bit more to right field?

Two Out Rally 

Ya gotta love the two out rally in the 8th. Down by a run, closer looming in the ninth, and the first two hitters look pathetic.

Yuni gets it started with a single, and Willie delivers a solid single. Than Jose Vidro comes off the bench with a clutch pinch-hit single to tie the game. Ichiro gives us the lead with an opposite field double, and Jose Lopez finishes the rally with an opposite field shot of his own.

A 4-3 defeat turns into a sweet 7-4 victory... beautiful.

On a night when the King was still nowhere to be found, the M's got to explore the new territory of 4 games over .500 on the back of their offense, which chipped away for a run here and there until the decisive 8th.

I love the look of the offense with Lopez in the 2-hole. I think the M's need to stick to this lineup for awhile. Moving Kenji to the cleanup spot and moving Ibanez down the ladder would be welcome changes as well. I could easily see Broussard getting to enjoy more fielding adventures in left field if Raul's power drought continues.

But the offense is totally gelling. They are a relentless attack 1-9, and our only holes seem to be our biggest bats who can still drill a mistake a long way.

The key to 2007 will be the pitching. We need the King to return, and I've no doubt that he will, but it may be 2 or 3 starts away. But I think once he returns it will be to stay. As the offense clicks, you can see Batista getting more comfortable. Baek has been a welcome surprise, and Washburn looks smooth.

Finding a true #2 stud would go along way from turning this team from a team that is scratching for a chance to lose in the first round of the playoffs to a team that is ALCS bound. Jeffy Weaver gets his chance to re-audition for the role this weekend, but lets just say I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Rest of the Story 

From the PI:
Jeff Weaver's simulated game Sunday morning didn't offer much clarity on his immediate future.
Because most of the reserves were in Sunday's starting lineup, only backup outfielder Jason Ellison was available to hit against Weaver. Batting practice pitcher Brett Merrick and conditioning coach Allen Wirtala also stood in against him. To give Weaver a look at a left-hander, McLaren took a turn in the left-handed batter's box without swinging.
What was left on the cutting room floor is the more important part of the story.
The impromptu 4-man squad scored 11 runs on 14 hits including three Wirtala bombs, while McLaren was walked an amazing 7 times in 38 pitches.

Will Felix Return to Stud Form Soon? 

If you play fantasy baseball, a great premium site for fantasy information is Ron Shandler's Baseball HQ site. One weekly feature is a speculation on the latest injuries. Today includes a scary blurb on our favorite pitcher, El Cartelua:
Felix Hernandez (RHP, SEA)
Did you watch Felix Hernandez's latest start? He allowed seven runs, nine hits and three home runs in six innings of work. Needless to say, it wasn't a confidence-building outing by any stretch of the imagination. While he walked just one, and for the most part he had enough control to avoid getting behind every hitter he faced, he didn't have good command of his pitches. They were up in the strike zone, as evidenced by the three homers and the fact he missed the catcher's glove high more times than not.

One veteran baseball observer I discussed his outing with felt Hernandez was struggling with his release point. That would help explain the command issues. He added that Hernandez looked more like the 2006 version than the supposedly new and improved 2007 version. Could his post DL struggles be related to the flexor muscle strain he endured last month? It's likely because he hasn't gotten over the psychological barrier of being hurt in April. Maybe the back stiffness and reduced flexibility in his torso from his prior start was still an issue also.

The bottom line is this: Hernandez is not the same pitcher he was in his first two starts of 2007 when he dominated. The elbow and forearm problems may be the answer as to why he's struggling. Because he's so young, and doesn't have a lot of professional baseball experience, it will take him a while to right the ship.
Sounds like we may have a few more rocky Felix outings ahead of us, but at least no one thinks the King is currently hurt. We'll be hoping to see the Felix that dominated Boston earlier this season.


One Kenny Lofton age-defying play away from a four game sweep over the hapless Rangers, and the M's find themselves over the hump at three games over .500, but still 5 1/2 games behind the white-hot Angels.

And now, according to multiple sources, the Mariners are going to send Ryan Feierabend back to Tacoma so that we may once again enjoy the meatball stylings of Jeffy Weaver, after Jeffy has spit in the face of the organization paying him $8 million by refusing to show he has the ability to get AAA batters out.


So how many starts will Jeffy have to blow before the M's show him out the door. How much better will Jeffy be than Feierabend showed. Here are Feierabend's two starts.

6.2 IP - 4 ER
7.1 IP - 4 ER

Here are Jeffy's starts for 2007
2 IP - 7 ER
6 IP - 7 ER (best start of the year!)
3 IP - 3 ER
0.1 IP - 6 ER (against Kansas City!)
5.2 IP - 6 ER
5 IP - 6 ER

6 starts, 6 losses, and 6 hangdog walks back to the dugout.

I guess the M's are hoping for a turnaround like Jeffy had in 2006. Here are Jeffy's ERA for each month in 2006.
April: 7.48, May: 5.97, June: 5.47. At this point the Angels gave up on the 3-10 Jeffy and sent him to the Cardinals to try his hand with the NL.
July: 6.46, August: 5.67, Sept: 4.15, Oct: 2.43

So, all we have to do is survive three more months of the lousy Jeffy pitching, and we can dream of him leading us to October glory. If Jeffy throws three months of 5.00 ERA (wouldn't that be amazing!), who thinks we will give him the ball in game four of the ALDS?

Why are we even wasting our time with this guy? Are we hoping that he puts up two great starts and somehow we can trade him to the Yankees? Or is the concern that if Feierabend were to falter (not sure how this organization defines falter if it isn't a picture of Jeffy Weaver), that Jorge Campillo couldn't show up and through up a 5.00 ERA?

Jeffy has the veteran status that allows him to turn down a rehab start. It just disgusts me that he did. Its not like he has to travel on a bus - its just a start or two in Tacoma. Show that he can get AAA hitters out so that we have some reason to play him. But since he did turn down the rehab start, there is no reason we can't banish him to the bullpen, and only allow him to pitch if the M's are already down 8 runs in a game. Or maybe we can take a cue from Pinella's Cubs and let Jeffy get into a fight with Kenji that would leave Weaver with a longer DL stint?

I hope the M's are smart enough to at least keep Feierabend on the roster, because if Jeffy starts on Friday, we are going to need a long reliever.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Once more into the Hump 

I gotta say, I love watching the Mariners beat the Rangers. Because I live in Austin, the Extra Innings package does not send me Ranger games, so I am at the whim of our local broadcasting crew. And while the Rangers announcers are nondescript (no irritating Hud-Dog garbage), they still irritate me in the way they tend to talk down about the Mariners.

Last night, once the Rangers were down 7-0, they went into a long shpiel about how the Mariners are a long downtrodden franchise, and that our best memories of the 70's and 80's are tied into promotions like Funny Nose & Glasses Night.

Now, this is true, of course, but bringing up our inglorious past as a way to distract your viewers from your teams terrible now, seems a bit, well, disingenuous. But I probably read too much into announcers trying to fill time during a 40-minute first inning. Vicente Padilla throws each pitch as if it pains him to put it out there, and with the way the M's dinked and donked him to death, it probably did.

Cha Seung Baek "followed the baseball code" by plunking the Rangers best hitter to lead off an inning. But its a somewhat stupid code. The code should instead require a pitcher to bean the first batter he faces once there are two outs so there is less chance of the beanball coming back to bite him in the ass by kicking off a five run inning.

Of course, I think bunting to break up a no-hitter is perfectly acceptable as long as the bunting team is within 3 runs.

All these "baseball code" items need to be framed in the more important context of winning the freaking baseball game.

That's all for now. Jarrod Washburn goes tonight while Kevin Millwood returns for the Rangers. It should be a good pitching matchup, and hopefully our bats stay hot enough to get us back over the Hump!

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